Archive for May, 2010

In S.C., ex-Sanford protege Nikki Haley denies affair with ex-Sanford press secretary

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waves to supporters after she endorses S.C. gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley earlier this month. Associated Press

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waves to supporters after she endorses S.C. gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley earlier this month. Associated Press

South Carolina is in apparent need of chastity belts. Thousands of them. Unisex, and industrial strength.

Less than a year after Gov. Mark Sanford left for his hike on the Appalachian Trail, two of his former acolytes are in a public argument over whether they slept together.

One of them – the one who says nothing happened — is Nikki Haley, the Republican candidate for governor whose campaign has been surging since an endorsement by Sarah Palin. Jenny Sanford, former wife of the South Carolina governor, is also backing her – as is Georgia’s own Erick Erickson.

Today, in what was pitched as a protest against nefarious political maneuverings, former Mark Sanford press secretary Will Folks posted the following on his Web site, Fitsnews.com:

I have become the primary target of a group that will apparently stop at nothing to destroy …

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Your morning jolt: Abortion and the Democratic race for governor

DuBose Porter, the Democratic candidate for governor, called Saturday afternoon to discuss his acknowledgement that he considers himself “pro-life” in the abortion debate.

He had signaled as much already. Porter was the only Democratic candidate for governor to attend a forum hosted this winter by the Georgia Christian Alliance.

(By coincidence, while Porter and I were talking, Sadie Fields, leader of the Alliance, was telling supporters that she was retiring her group. But this is another topic.)

At the root of Porter’s call was a weekend piece by the Athens Banner-Herald, noting the collapse of a set of gubernatorial debates by GeorgiaBio and what it said about political attitudes toward embryonic stem cell research in Georgia.

It’s a big issue among the research community at the University of Georgia. But in the course of researching the article, ABH reporter Blake Aued had to ascertain Porter’s related position on abortion. Wrote Aued:

I prefaced a question about embryonic …

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Sadie Fields retires the Georgia Christian Alliance

Sadie Fields, perhaps the most influential and polarizing woman in Georgia politics, has sent out a letter to supporters announcing that she’s retiring her Georgia Christian Alliance.

In a conversation late Saturday, Fields said she would put her organization in abeyance – but would remain active in politics.

Georgia Christian Alliance leader Sadie Fields

Georgia Christian Alliance leader Sadie Fields

Fields has been a power at the state Capitol since taking over leadership of the Georgia Christian Coalition in 1997. She split with the national – and declining – organization in 2006, renaming her group.

Fields reached the peak of her influence in 2004, when she pushed through the Legislature – a two-thirds vote was required in each chamber – placing a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot, prohibiting same-sex marriage.

What does this mean? It means that Republican candidates for office can stop sweating over the grades she would have given them on her pre-primary scorecards.

Here’s her …

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A wave of teacher layoffs set to wash over Georgia politics

Cobb County school teachers protest budget cuts that resulted in 579 faculty layoffs. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

Cobb County school teachers protest budget cuts that resulted in 579 faculty layoffs. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

A wave that Georgia Republicans have feared for the better part of a year is approaching the shoreline.

This month, thousands of public school teachers across the state were formally notified that their services were no longer required. They will be joined in the unemployment line by thousands of others — school clerks, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

Roughly 3,500 of the state’s 118,000 public school teachers are at risk, according to one estimate — although the state Department of Education says an exact count won’t be available until this fall.

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond says his department has prepared for 8,000 school-related applications for jobless benefits this summer.

Even more teachers and school workers could lose their jobs next year, as federal stimulus funding is depleted.

Spread across the state’s 180 school systems, it’s …

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Four GOP candidates to debate in Gwinnett — Jeff Chapman, Ray McBerry left out

FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots will host a pair of debates this evening in the ballroom of the Gwinnett Center on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.

I’ll be moderating the 5:30 p.m. forum featuring the 7th District congressional race – though with seven candidates, “cat-herding” may be the better term. Send ideas for questions if you’ve got them.

A debate among the top four GOP candidates for governor – state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, former congressman Nathan Deal, former secretary of state Karen Handel, and former state Senator Eric Johnson – will follow.

The decision to exclude two candidates, Republicans Jeff Chapman and Ray McBerry, prompted tea party activist Debbie Dooley to send out an explanation this morning that included the following:

“They are polling below 2 percent two months out from the primary. We want to be focused on issues during this debate and not controversy. We feel strongly that two of the top four will go to a runoff and want …

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DuBose Porter says he’s pro-life

Abortion may have just become an issue in the Democratic campaign for governor. Blake Aued of the Athens Banner-Herald posted the following late Friday:

Carol and DuBose Porter, Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor and governor, respectively, after qualifying last month. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Carol and DuBose Porter, Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor and governor, respectively, after qualifying last month. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Attention, ladies: DuBose Porter is pro-life.

But the Democratic gubernatorial candidate says he’s not going to make a big deal out of it.
Porter, the House minority leader from Dublin, is a hard man to pin down on abortion. That’s not surprising, given that he’s stuck between a conservative, religious rural constituency and statewide ambitions that involve appealing to a more liberal, female, urban audience as well.

Talking to Porter about biotech research this afternoon, I prefaced a question about embryonic stem cells by asking him whether he was pro-life or pro-choice.

“I don’t know if that’s where government needs to be,” he dodged.

I pressed a little …

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The new Barnes ad and a discussion of home foreclosures

The Democratic campaign of former Gov. Roy Barnes this morning unveiled its first ad in metro Atlanta:

Which means that the previous “apology” ad, the one that had Barnes seated in a church pew, was aimed at an audience elsewhere in Georgia. But this is beside the point.

The new TV spot prompted an e-mail exchange among state Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta), Barnes campaign manager Chris Carpenter, and the Insider.

This morning, I noted a new Barnes’ promise in the TV spot – mandatory negotiations between homeowners and banks before all foreclosures.

Wrote Lindsey, the House majority whip:

Interesting ad by Roy Barnes — it is almost as if I had heard the part about encouraging negotiation before foreclosure before. Wait, I had! We passed this legislation in 2008. SB 531 stated in part the following:

44-14-162.2

(a) Notice of the initiation of proceedings to exercise a power of sale in a mortgage, security deed, or other lien contract shall be given to the debtor by the …

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Sam Nunn and the nuclear hair-trigger

Over at Foreign Policy magazine, David Hoffman has what is essentially a review of “Nuclear Tipping Point,” a documentary that lays out the argument for a slow walk away from nuclear weaponry.

The film is a project coordinated by the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit agency co-chaired by former Georgia senator Sam Nunn and CNN founder Ted Turner.

“Nuclear Tipping Point” is, in fact, the video version of an argument that a bipartisan quartet – Nunn, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and William Perry – have made in a series of op-ed pieces for the Wall Street Journal.

Nuclear weaponry is an outdated feature of the Cold War, the era’s former architects argue. Here’s the trailer:

Hoffman’s piece is worth reading in its entirety, but it includes this:

In the film, Nunn returns to a topic that has concerned him for years — the danger of accidental launch or miscalculation. At the peak of the Cold War, a president would have only minutes to decide on a …

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Your morning jolt: ‘I’ll close the Governor’s Mansion’ to pay for schools, says Roy Barnes

Three Democratic candidates for governor were down in Savannah last night to speak to a small crowd of school teachers, administrators and parents.

Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News said all three received a warm reception, and all three supported a proposal to increase the minimum dropout age from 16 to 17.

Former National Guard commander David Poythress declared that teachers shouldn’t bear the responsibility for failing schools: “You don’t lead people by …. threatening their jobs if they don’t meet some artificial criteria. You lead people by inspiring them.”

House Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin noted his role in creating the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program, and a formula for financing education that has been abandoned by Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican.

The Morning News continues:

But the loudest applause went to Barnes, who stressed the importance of early childhood education and vowed to stop furloughs of teachers.

Of the three candidates, he …

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Rand Paul reboots: ‘I would have voted yes’

After his Tuesday night victory in Kentucky, Rand Paul’s debut as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate got off to a shaky start with awkward interviews on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The tea party hero declined to say whether the federal government should have the authority to prohibit a private business from discriminating on the basis of race. Here’s the morning post with the background.

We haven’t seen the video, but Paul attempted a reboot this afternoon, during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. A portion of the transcript:

BLITZER: All right, I want to give you a chance to explain, because there’s a lot of confusion right now about precisely where you stand. I’ll ask you a simple question. If you had been a member of the Senate or the House back in 1964, would you have voted yea or nay for the Civil Rights Act?

PAUL: Yes. I would have voted yes.

BLITZER: So why is there all this confusion emerging right now? Give me your analysis, because you’ve had to …

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